History

Christmas Cookie Designs: A Little Tradition Goes a Long Way

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“A very Tex-mex Christmas. And that cowboy santa … my gosh,” reads the post on this unique Instagram picture of Christmas cookies made in Texas. The designs are certainly Lone Star State-inspired, and the frosting/decorations are spot-on! How do you decorate your cookies for Christmas?

Traditionally sugar cookies or biscuits (although other flavors have often been used throughout the years) Christmas cookies are based on both personal preferences and family traditions. Sugar cookies are simply the easiest to cut into various holiday-related shapes, as you see here. According to Wikipedia, modern-day Christmas cookies have a history that dates back to Medieval European biscuits – a time when many of today’s ingredients like ginger, cinnamon, almonds, and dried fruit were just being introduced to the western world. They had become quite popular throughout Europe by the 16th century, with pepparkakor being the preference in Sweden, krumkake in Norway, and Lebkuchen being the first choice in Germany. Our Texas roots having some European beginnings, we naturally have some of their baking influences in our modern-day cookie options.

Christmas Cookie Designs: A Little Tradition Goes a Long Way

Photo: Instagram/@chefsaborbakes

Traveling with the Dutch in the early 17th century, the first examples of Christmas cookies made their appearance in the United States. And, as a result of German imports which were considered quite reasonable at the time (by dollar standards), and a change to importation laws, between 1871 and 1906 cookie cutters became widely available in U.S. markets. The imported cookie cutters would often depict very stylishly embellished designs with images that were meant to decorate a Christmas tree with. As a result of their wide range of availability, more recipes began to be printed in cookbooks designed to make use of the cookie cutters. In the early 20th century, American merchants were even importing the German Lebkuchen decorated cookies to be used as gifts. Far from today’s current traditions, where we decorate reindeer, holly leaves, and elves to leave for Santa on Christmas eve, these were the beginnings of the modern-day Christmas cookie baking and decorating festivities.

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